Golf stocks sink as interest in the sport plummets

Experts say that young people are abandoning the game or never giving it a try.

By Benzinga Aug 18, 2014 4:59PM

Credit: © Michael Flippo/Sports Images/Alamy

Caption: A short putt in the game of golf on a putting greenBy John Seward

A worldwide slump in the popularity of golf has lead to tough going for publicly traded companies that depend on the sport.

Callaway Golf (ELY) shares are down 10 percent year to date. Adidas (ADDYY), maker of TaylorMade golfing equipment, recently fired 15 percent of the golf division's global workforce after disclosing that golfing sales fell 27 percent in the first half of 2014.

Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) last month fired more than 500 PGA golf pros from its stores.

"It suggests they're desperately trying to arrest profit declines," Canaccord analyst Camilo Lyon said. "We have doubts about golf and its seemingly structural decline."

"It's awful scary watching it go down," Mark King, until recently the head of TaylorMade, told NBC news last month.

"Young people entering the game after high school, 18- to 30-year-olds are down 35 percent in the last 10 years," said King, recently named president of Adidas North America. "So I don't like where the game looks like it's going."

While a soft economy along with a retail golf inventory glut and declining performance of Tiger Woods has undoubtedly hurt sales, some see a secular and permanent change as young people fail to cultivate interest in the sport.

Half the 400,000 people who abandoned the sport in 2012 were under the age of 35, according to the National Golf Foundation.

"The values of golf do not match up with the values of millennials," wrote Forbes columnist Matt Powell.

"The game is too time consuming, exclusive, complicated and expensive to appeal to young people," Powell wrote. "Golf has lost the millennials."

More from Benzinga

Aug 18, 2014 10:58PM
I love to golf, but this is not surprising at all when you consider a round of golf with cart, maybe a few beers/snacks easily runs $100+.  Then take into account the $400 drivers, $4 golf balls, etc etc etc, and it's no wonder everything is down!  Middle class America barely makes enough to put food on the table... 
Aug 18, 2014 7:06PM
i played all the time back in the day 15 bucks and cart plus you could play all day over and over now you can't get a beer and a hot dog for 15 bucks and the green fees are 35dollars
Aug 18, 2014 8:15PM
Green fees have gotten much to expensive. 5 1/2 hour round take fun out of it. Equipment also much to costly.
Aug 18, 2014 7:20PM

The price of a round of golf has increased more drastically than wages have.  And you have to practice alot to be any good on the course.  That cost has risen as well.

Aug 18, 2014 5:36PM
The problem with golf is that it is very hard to get good at playing it.  That is also what makes it such a great game.  Younger people today are all about their electronic devices and don't care about activities that require thinking.
Aug 18, 2014 8:20PM
There are a few reasons why this is the case.  First, it's expensive to play (the cost of playing is ongoing and does not stop with purchasing equipment).  Second, young people are more likely to use video games for sports like this (like they often do with bowling), even though the video game is nothing like the "real thing."  Third, today's young people generally have shorter attention spans and less patience, and are more likely to give up if learning the sport proves difficult. 
Aug 18, 2014 11:27PM
Passionate golfer for 25+ years and got to be a near scratch handicapper.  I just quit playing one day. The game is too expensive. The same golf companies who bled us dry are now suffering themselves. Who cares. I now bicycle and spend more time traveling -- and my millennial son? Unlike his video games, there is no re-boot for a bad game of golf. You either persist or wallow in mediocrity. Too bad, because these young kids are not going to be happy when reality wakes them up in 20 years.
Aug 18, 2014 9:12PM
I am fifty and haven't played golf since 1995. Why? People who play golf are usually unpleasant. They act like a New Yorker at a traffic light. The game is supposed to be enjoyable and it seems that every time I went out there was somebody who thought it was there job to explain to me either how to play or to move it along because I was wasting time. The last time I was out, one guy told me that I was ruining the course and if I didn't know how to play that I shouldn't be out here. Now I'm a successful doctor and I don't play golf and you want to know something, few of my colleagues from school play golf. It is expensive and to be honest, not that much fun because there is always someone who thinks they are tiger woods and they take the game too seriously. The young people  probably don't play because of these same things and the fact that it is expensive. Around here, a round will run you a hundred dollars. It will always be around but I anticipate that half the courses will eventually close due to costs. 
Aug 18, 2014 8:52PM
Most all items in life are plummeting except those we need. Recreation is suffering big time as the economy continues to diminish for all of the younger set. Jobs....the cure for most ails except for those who don't want to work anyway.
Aug 19, 2014 12:49AM
The game is probably just receding back to where it should be.

It's an exclusive, expensive, difficult activity that created a bubble over the past 15 years based on the popularity of one man.

Aug 18, 2014 9:04PM
The diminished popularity is just great for us who play a couple of times a week. Courses are not fees for seniors are lower then they were 10 years ago...there are coupons and offers galore for free lunches or reduced green fees. Just purchased a coupon to play 4 quality courses in NJ for a total of $ restrictions except cant use on weekends. Its the best thing that could have happened for seniors who play during the week. Now if the price of equipment would just go down.
Aug 18, 2014 7:54PM

the over 40 crowd have the money but not the 5 hours it takes to play 18. the younger people don't have the $ or the patience it takes to play 18 holes.  plus they can't "tweet" and golf at the same time cuz it's too bright outside to see your handheld.

might be time to try the video golf centers again. 

Aug 18, 2014 10:25PM
Hum, there are going to be plenty of wealthy retired people with time and money to play for the next
15 or more years. Young people do not have the time to drive to a course and play the game for 6 hours.
They would just rather play  on the tech device.
Aug 19, 2014 12:16AM
in myrtle beach the kids play free with a paying adult. thats the only way for them to play. parents cant afford to pay for them. its way overpriced. every course should let kids play free with paying adult!!!!!
Aug 19, 2014 9:38AM
The military just said we have a crises in that it cannot find enough 19 yr. olds who can pass the minimum physical standards for admittance. Half of young adults are obese and a third are morbidly so. Is it any wonder this generation is not interested in golf?  
Aug 18, 2014 7:06PM
Aug 18, 2014 7:42PM
I played all my life until marriage and kids, got a golf scholarship,too.  Takes too long and gave it up.
Aug 19, 2014 10:18AM
I'm a member at a local golf club in PA- I do a lot of 9 hole rounds- no real reason to blow a whole day. I'm done in 1hr 1/2. The next day I might do the other 9. What's all the fuss about??
Aug 19, 2014 9:39AM
I consider this good news.  Fewer first timers/bad golfers slowing down play and acting like they are in Las Vegas on a road trip.  More time and good playing conditions for those wh love golf, understand its heritage and the rules of play.  Fore!
Aug 19, 2014 11:41AM
The Tiger Woods phenom is over. The growth of the game is back to more traditional levels.
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